Statement on 4th Anniversary of the Passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010
Today is the fourth anniversary of the passage by Congress of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. We at 911 Health Watch would like to take this time to note the many ways in which the Zadroga law has helped those who were impacted by the health crisis caused by the September 11th attacks.
The New York Congressional delegation and thousands of advocates struggled for years to force Washington to help those who were injured or made ill by the toxic aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Just before Christmas four years ago, Congress was forced to respond and take action.
The Zadroga law, signed by President Obama, authorized two programs: the World Trade Center Health Program and the reopened September 11 Victim Compensation Fund. These programs were implemented by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Justice Department, respectively.
The World Trade Center Health Program provides treatment and medical monitoring for World Trade Center responders and survivors, as well as for responders to the Pentagon and Shanksville crash sites. Today, the program serves nearly 70,000 responders and survivors, an increase of more 8,600 enrollees since the program began. The program serves people in every state and in 429 out of 435 Congressional districts across the country. Over the last year, the program provided care for more than 20,000 responders and survivors.
The health program provides treatment for over 50 cancers and has certified that more than 3,500 people have cancers caused or made worse by 9/11.
While the health program has expanded its services, the initial delays in implementation of the reopened September 11 Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) has been a real concern for injured and ill responders and survivors and their families. However, in recent months, the Fund’s Special Master has made clear and substantial progress, picking up the pace in both processing claims and making compensation determinations.
The most recent report by Special Master Sheila Birnbaum states that as of September 30th, 16,833 responders and survivors have submitted eligibility forms. According to Ms. Birnbaum, to date, 8,517 of these applicants have been determined eligible for compensation. Of the 8,517 claimants who were determined eligible, 4,958 had submitted compensation forms, for which 2,042 compensation decisions have been made.
As of September 30, 2014, the VCF has offered $551,269,835 in compensation determinations.
While much more needs to be done – and 911 Health Watch will continue to monitor and help improve both the health program and the VCF – we are proud that the Zadroga law is providing desperately-needed assistance to thousands of people who helped the nation recover from the worst-ever attacks on our shores. It’s truly the least that our great country can do.